Will Omnicron Send Us Back Online?


Ella Beckwith and Taylin Sorden

According to the December 20, 2021 update on the CDC website “The Omicron variant likely will spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and how easily Omicron spreads compared to Delta remains unknown. CDC expects that anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms.” The website further states that “Current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant. However, breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated are likely to occur. With other variants, like Delta, vaccines have remained effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. The recent emergence of Omicron further emphasizes the importance of vaccination and boosters.”  The rise in cases of coronavirus has students and parents nervous that a repeat of the hybrid and online learning of the 2020-21 school year could be imminent. 

On Wednesday, January 5th, before the first day of the second semester, Academy District 20 Superintendent of Schools, Tom Gregory, sent out an email to the district concerning the breakout. The email stated, “This will not deter us from our goal of prioritizing in-person learning in the safest environment possible.”  Gregory’s statement recognized that masks aren’t a requirement, but are highly recommended. Air Academy is still required to wear masks since they are located on the Air Force Academy. Due to the lack of facial coverings, students predict that we could be returning to hybrid or even fully online education within a matter of weeks. Sophomore Regan Nelson states that “It is alarming how much more contagious the new variant is, but I think we should stay in person as long as we can in order to benefit the students’ learning and mental health.” Lily Henry, junior, said that “the COVID spike is more dramatic than it was the first time so if they sent us online for that, why wouldn’t they send us online now?” Junior Lance Walthour said, “I think we will go back online because if look around the country, in places like Chicago, you already see it happening.”

Precautions that have been taken so far include suspending large assemblies of students and/or staff. In addition, those who test positive for COVID-19 are required to isolate for a minimum of five days. People who experience symptoms also have to be isolated for a minimum of three days. Gregory explains that with the new variant, it is anticipated that there will be more staff shortages, which “may negatively impact a variety of important services in the coming weeks.” Our district is striving to keep their students attending school in person, while still keeping them safe and healthy.